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Oct 08

Chris Smeaton

Trustee Elections- October 16th

Municipal elections in Alberta are just around the corner and part of those elections include trustees for school boards. Initially I wanted to write this blog post for nomination day, which was September 18th, but between the excuse of time and maybe waffling a little bit, I didn’t get around to it until right now.

The waffling as to whether to write this or not is still there. As a superintendent, my boss, the corporate school board is made up of trustees who will be elected (or who have already been acclaimed) on October 16th. That’s definitely a reason not to “stir the pot.” But on the flip side, my ability to retire tomorrow if needed, allows me to be more outspoken than some of my superintendent colleagues. And even with an election in one of our wards, the success of our school division would suggest minimal changes around the board table.

The real reason however, that I write this blog post is to support all of the children who come into our schools in Alberta every single day. You see, being a trustee is about supporting ALL students in the absence of any political agendas or single-minded issues and most importantly, without inflated egos. Unfortunately, that is not what I’m seeing on social media as I view the campaigning throughout the province. It is disappointing that we are slowly replicating the attack and smear politics that seems to be common with our southern neighbours.

I’ve worked closely with trustees since 2001 and I’ve seen the gamut of support/non-support for teachers, government or administration. I’ve worked with trustees who thought they were the superintendent and didn’t have a clue about their roles in the world of governance. I’ve also been around trustees who came in with a single issue focus. They usually became pretty disengaged when either the issue was solved or through a better understanding it became a non-issue.

But I’ve also been surrounded by excellent trustees who through stakeholder engagement set direction for the division and then held my feet to the fire to get us there. I’ve worked with trustees who made every decision based on what was best for students, were relationship focused and supported the work of staff in order to offer the highest quality of education. They took their generative, fiduciary and strategic roles to heart.

The education of students is far too important for “me personalities” to be involved. Ego can’t overrun the vocation of the school trustee which is to serve. On election day, vote for those trustees who you believe will serve all and not those who simply have political agendas. Vote for those who can see the big picture and not get lost in their own small details. The work of trustees should always be honourable and integrity driven and those who follow that mantra need to be the ones who sit at their board tables after the election!

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